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Don’t judge schools by SATS data alone, says NAHT

Today (4 July 2017) the results of the Key Stage 2 SATs tests are published. Commenting, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT commented on this year's SATs data.  

“The first available data from this year’s SATS shows that 61 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics in 2017. Comparisons with last year are inevitable but they are also unwise, as last year’s results were unexpectedly low and pupils were being assessed at a time when the curriculum and assessment methods had changed significantly.

“This year, students and schools are more familiar with the new style tests. Teachers will have had a better idea about what to expect and have been better placed to prepare children. Pupils have also had an extra year following the new curriculum. Some of the tests have been better designed this year, as well.

“Still though, it is necessary to take these results with a pinch of salt. And schools should never be judged by data alone. NAHT believes that schools should be held to account in a fair way, recognising that test and exam results are only part of the picture when judging a pupil’s success or a school’s effectiveness.

Mr Hobby continued: “Schools do need to be held to account but inspectors should look at more than just data. That way, when parents are reading Ofsted reports they can have more confidence that the report properly reflects how good the school actually is. 

“We are seeing the signs of a more balanced approach to the use of data by Ofsted, as expressed in a recent speechby Amanda Spielman, the Chief Inspector, in which she said: ‘Rather than just intensifying the focus on data, Ofsted inspections must explore what is behind the data, asking how results have been achieved."

James Bowen, Director of NAHT Edge added: “Just looking at SATS data misses the majority of the real work that schools do to help young people achieve their full potential. Apart from anything else we need to remember that these results simply reflect how a small proportion of a school's pupils performed in a one-off 45 minute test. They are at best a tiny snapshot of a very specific area of a child's development.

"We ve written to the Secretary of State this week to push for continued reform of primary assessment. We look forward to continuing that dialogue over the summer, so that we can build an assessment system in England that parents, teachers and school leaders can all have faith in."

First published 11 January 2018